Tasha Fouts received her BA from California State University at Long Beach and her MFA in poetry from Bowling Green State University. Her work has previously appeared in Salt Hill, Bateau, and Little Red Leaves. She works and lives in suburban Illinois but still calls Alaska home because its wildness will always be in her heart.
The image: a paw clawing
her stomach. The eggs.
The sound: an open mouth. A mosquito
sunk in mud. A fly, two reeds. Stones
that never move. The image: rust
on river floors. A basket
of thrashes and clay. Her scales
are everywhere. The sound:
love of nails and flesh.
The image: a paw. Eggs
foaming from a mouth. The sound:
the spill of a basket. A stomach
of thrashes. Two reeds swallow
a fly. The image: clay and mud, clay
and flesh. Stones that will not
move. The stab of rust.
The image: a broken mosquito.
The sound: A sturgeon’s love.
The image: an empty basket,
two reeds and a wing.
The sound: the lull of rust
and a palpus. A river floor rusting
The image: placid. Scales everywhere.
The sound: mud. The image:
a stomach. No man.
The sound: no mouth.
The image: clay.
The sound: flesh.
The image: a stone overturned.
This poem began as a meditation on the inherent violence in the act of a bear feeding. A friend of mine had just returned from a bear-watching tour in Southeast Alaska and talked about how the bears were catching salmon, shaking them and then throwing them back in to the river. On rare occasion one would shake the salmon, swipe the belly of the fish and eat the row tossing the fish back to the river. While this was the impetus for the central image, the poem, I hope, moves beyond that to explore the tensions created by the coexistence of the beautiful pastoral and the truth of violence that arises from it.